We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.
“Tribute2,” the farewell show for Irvine Contemporary’s 14th Street NW location, features the work of 10 artists, but each of them pales in comparison to the insanely clever sculptures of Sebastian Martorana. Sure, Kerry Skarbakka intrigues with a self-portrait of himself tumbling through the air while in the thrall of a Bierstadt landscape at the Corcoran Gallery of Art; Akemi Maegawa impresses with a chia-pet-like sculpture of a brain that has a tender shoot growing from its top; and Susana Raab reprises her photograph of a Southern vernacular flag sculpture made from color-appropriate plastic cups stuck into a fence. But really, it’s impossible for any of the artists to compete with the understated yet dazzling works of Martorana, a Baltimore-based sculptor who confidently pulls off a reverse Claes Oldenburg—-making soft objects hard. In “Canvas,” Martorana takes a piece of marble and carves it so it has the subtle textures of a painter’s canvas, right down to gently folded corners. In “Frustration 8 ½ x 11,” he turns another hunk of marble into a ream of office paper, including a top sheet that’s subtly crinkled. But his tour de force is a humble bath towel carved from marble, tossed over an Ikea-worthy rod—-a work that exudes an incongruous delicacy.